Still highly relevant for sports scholars four years later

Anne Tjønndal
Nord University, Norway

Jean Harvey et al.
Sport and Social Movements: From the Local to the Global
178 pages, hardcover.
London: Bloomsbury 2014 (Globalizing Sport Studies)
ISBN 978-1-78093-414-3

Sport and Social Movements by Jean Harvey, John Horne, Parissa Safai, Simon Darnell and Sebastien Courchesne-O’Neill was published in 2014 and is a part of the ‘Globalizing Sport Studies’ book series. John Horne, Professor of Sport and Sociology at the University of Central Lancashire is the editor of the series, which brings together innovative empirical and theoretical work on sport studies. The series focuses on social scientific and cultural studies of sport. The focus in this book is on ‘how and why sport connects with social movements’ (pp. 2). Within this topic, the authors outline four key questions for discussion: (1) How are social movements and alter-globalization influencing the current sport order as well as the wider world order? (2) How do the different forms of political actions spurred by social movements differ from previous forms in their reach and goals for change? (3) Are there existing sports forms or sports organizations whose goals are consistent with global social movements? And (4), what actual or potential influence have these organizations had on the global social order of sport?

The book consists of an introduction, six individual chapters and conclusion. Chapters 2-6 focuses on global social movements and their connection to sport. The first chapter, titled ‘Analysing Sport and (Global) Social Movements’ consists of two sections. Firstly, it explores different definitions of the concept ‘social movements’, and secondly, the authors provide an outline of the history of social movements. In this part, the authors also discuss specific features of contemporary global social movements.

Chapter 2 deals with the labour movement, arguably one of the oldest social movements. While the sphere of the labour movement activity has historically been wide (pp. 27-31), this chapter is about its influence on workers’ leisure and sports participation. Some main topics in this chapter includes ‘sport for workers’, ‘uniting workers through sport’ and ‘promoting workers’ rights through sports mega-events’.

Chapter 3 is dedicated to the global women’s movement. This chapter is organized in three sections. The first section gives an overview of the historical evolution of the global women’s movement. The second section of the chapter explores the development of the global women and sport movement. Finally, the third section examines the limitations of women in sport around the world.

… sport is now directly confronted and challenged by the issues raised by the environmental movement

Chapter 4 takes on the human rights movement, namely anti-racism and the civil rights movements, the disability rights movement and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights movement. While some argue that sport is a human right in itself, the authors explore commonalities and differences between key social movements involved with rights, their relationship to sport, and sports’ relevance to them. Here, the authors demonstrate how equality issues of mainstreaming and gaining legitimacy underpin all three of these social movements involved with rights and sport.

Chapter 5 focuses on the peace movement, and explores the history, characteristics, politics and implications of the global peace movement and its connection to sport and physical culture. In this chapter the authors discuss three topics. It begins by describing the history of and features of the peace movement and various peace movement organizations (PMOs). This is followed by an analysis of how and in what ways PMOs and peace activists have connected to and shaped sport. Finally, it concludes with a review of critical scholarly appraisals of sport and the peace movement (see for instance Darnell, 2012).

Lastly, Chapter 6 discusses the environmental movement. Here, the authors argue that while sport may have been late to pay attention to climate change and pollution, it is no different than other domains of social and political life, meaning that sport is now directly confronted and challenged by the issues raised by the environmental movement (pp. 114-115). Of the book’s contents, I found this chapter the most engaging to read. The authors discuss several interesting and important themes here. These include: (1) the relationship between environmentalism and the Olympic Games (and how the question of the environment became a central issue for the Olympics); (2) organizations that have raised issues of sport and the environment globally (Greenpeace, Surfers against Sewage and the Global Anti-Golf Movement); and finally, (3) the institutionalization of environmentalism in sport (and how it has influenced strategies of the sports industry).

Although this book was first published in 2014, it is highly relevant for sport scientists now in 2018.  Overall, it is very well researched and the content is based on multinational evidence. In my opinion, the section in chapter 4 on the LGBT rights movement, and chapter 6 on the environmental movement, are particularly relevant for future research in sport sociology. My only ‘complaint’ with this book is that in some parts, the high volume of acronyms used can be confusing and disturbing to the flow of the text. However, there is an excellent ‘List of Acronyms’ at the beginning of the book to help the reader. Except for this, the book is structured in a manner that is easy to follow. The extensive literature review and research behind this book makes it primarily suitable for researchers, graduate and master students in various sport science fields.

Copyright © Anne Tjønndal 2018


Darnell, S.C. (2012). Sport for Development and Peace: A Critical Sociology. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Harvey, J., Horne, J. & Safai, P. (2009). Alter-globalization, Global Social Movements and the Possibility of Political Transformation through sport. Sociology of Sport Journal, 26 (3), 383-403.


Other titles in the ‘Globalizing Sport Studies’ series
Doidge, M. (2015). Football Italia. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Joseph, J. (2017). Sport in the Black Atlantic. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Kerr, R. (2016). Sport and Technology. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Kietlinski, R. (2014). Japanese Women and Sport. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Lindsay, I., Kay, T. & Jeanes, R. (2017). Localizing Global Sport for Development. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Malcolm, D. (2014). Globalizing Cricket. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Roche, M. (2017). Mega-events and social change – spectacle, legacy and public culture.
Rowe, D. (2014). Global Media Sport. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Woodward, K. (2015). Globalizing Boxing. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
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